This undated file photo shows the view of the Central Business District in Shenzhen, south China's Guangdong province. (MAO SIQIAN / XINHUA)

HONG KONG – The Hong Kong Special Administrative Region government will enhance the Greater Bay Area Youth Employment Scheme to attract more participants and improve its effectiveness, Secretary for Labour and Welfare Chris Sun said Wednesday.

Answering a query at the Legislative Council, Sun said the program will be regularized in the first half of the year with enhancement measures, including setting up a dedicated team to take forward the program and strengthen liaison with enterprises, post-secondary institutions, employer groups and other stakeholders.

The program, recorded a total of 3,494 job vacancies from 417 enterprises and received over 20,000 job applications from graduates

The program will also provide practical employment information in the GBA to graduates who showed interest earlier, follow up on the employment situation of hired persons during and after their participation in the program; and step up the publicity and promotion to share the participants’ success stories.

“The development of the Guangdong-Hong Kong-Macao Greater Bay Area (GBA) is accorded the status of key strategic planning in the country's development blueprint,” Sun said. 

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“The country will continue to develop the GBA and support Hong Kong in better integrating into the overall national development. The development of the GBA provides valuable opportunities for young people of Hong Kong to develop their careers,” he added. 

The HKSAR government launched the pilot Greater Bay Area Youth Employment Scheme in Jan 2021 to encourage enterprises with business in both Hong Kong and the GBA mainland cities to employ Hong Kong graduates who were awarded a bachelor's degree or above from 2019 to 2021. 

Participating enterprises employed the target graduates according to Hong Kong laws with a monthly salary of not less than HK$18,000 ($2,304). The government provided a monthly allowance of HK$10,000 to enterprises for each graduate employed for a maximum period of 18 months.

The program, recorded a total of 3,494 job vacancies from 417 enterprises and received over 20,000 job applications from graduates. The program’s recruitment period was completed by the end of August 2021 and 1,091 graduates had reported for duty.

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Sun said an evaluation study completed by the Labour and Welfare Bureau in June 2022 showed that nearly 80 percent of the respondents, including enterprises and hired persons, were satisfied or very satisfied with the program, and nearly 90 percent said it was worth continuing. 

“Among them, the hired persons indicated that the benefits after joining the Scheme included acquiring work experience conductive to career development, enhancing work-related knowledge/skills, establishing networks in the mainland, enhancing understanding of the living and work culture in the mainland, and enhancing knowledge on the mainland market/business environment,” Sun said.